The Secret Republicans of Silicon Valley
In an industry where only liberal ideas are “allowed,” many libertarians and conservatives keep their political views secret.
Deep in Silicon Valley, where the free market reigns and the exchange of ideas is celebrated, a subset of tech workers are hiding their true selves. Working as programmers and software engineers, they don’t want the stigma that comes with revealing who they really are.
They’re the tech company employees, startup founders, and CEOs who vote for and donate to Republican candidates, bucking the Bay Area’s liberal supremacy. Fearing the repercussions of associating with a much-maligned minority, they keep their political views fiercely hidden.
“It’s a liberal echo chamber,” Garrett Johnson, a co-founder of Lincoln Labs, which was started in 2013 to connect the right-of-center outsiders in Silicon Valley, told National Journal. “People have been convinced that Silicon Valley is reflexively liberal or progressive. And so their response is to conform.”
“这里是个自由派回音室，”Lincoln Labs联合创始人Garrett Johnson告诉《国家杂志（National Journal）》。Lincoln Labs创建于2013年，用来联络硅谷里处于政治右翼的局外人。“人们已经对硅谷的自由派思想和进步主义不假思索。他们的反应是一致顺从。”
Silicon Valley has long been a bastion of liberalism. Since George H.W. Bush won Napa County in 1988, Republican presidential nominees have lost every county in the Bay Area. In 2012, President Obama won 84 percent of the vote in San Francisco to Mitt Romney’s 13 percent and raised more for his reelection campaign from Bay Area donors than from those in New York or Hollywood. Political donations specifically from tech workers follow that trend: Google employees collectively gave $720,000 to Obama in 2012, versus $25,000 for Romney. Crowdpac, a nonpartisan political analytics firm, found that between 1979 and 2012, tech companies have overwhelmingly favored liberal candidates.
Rather than ruffle feathers—or worse—Republicans who work there often just keep quiet. Rich Tafel, who coaches tech companies in politics and policy, understands the dynamic. The founder of the gay group Log Cabin Republicans, he’s had many Republicans in Silicon Valley confide to him their true political views.
在硅谷工作的共和党人通常只是保持安静。他们不会触怒旁人，更别提做点别的什么了。在政治和政策方面给科技公司提供指导的Rich Tafel深知其中奥妙。Tafel是同性恋团体Log Cabin Republicans的创始人，已有许多硅谷共和党人向他吐露他们的真实政见。
“You just learn how to operate, if you will, in the closet as a Republican,” Tafel told National Journal. “You keep your viewpoints to yourself.”
One startup CEO who has worked in Silicon Valley for more than a decade says that while it’s popular to talk politics in the workplace, the underlying assumption is that everyone has similar views.
The CEO, who generally votes Republican and donates to GOP candidates—he spoke on background to conceal his right-leaning views—said that in 2012, “you wouldn’t want to say you’re voting for Romney in the election.” At the same time, openly expressing one’s support for Obama was “incredibly common.”
His opposition to raising the minimum wage is just one area where he diverges with most of his colleagues. “If you say something like, ‘We need a higher minimum wage,’ you don’t get critiqued,” he said. But he would never reveal his more conservative outlook on the matter.
“They can’t fathom that somebody disagrees with them,” he said. “And I disagree with them. So I’m not going to open up that box.”
Closeted Republicans aren’t just a phenomenon in the tech industry. In Hollywood, where acclaimed movie stars and directors throw lavish fundraisers for Democrats and unabashedly support liberal causes, Republicans are a rare breed. Friends of Abe, a GOP support group of sorts, caters to A-list conservatives in the entertainment industry. Only a handful of its members have made their affiliation known, and its roster is kept secret out of fears of a blacklisting reminiscent of the McCarthy era.
深柜共和党人现象并非只出现在科技产业中。在好莱坞，知名影星和导演为民主党人举行慷慨的募捐筹款，不加掩饰地支持自由派事业，而共和党人则是凤毛麟角。亚伯之友（Friends of Abe），可以算是共和党的支持团体，为娱乐界最一流的保守派人士提供服务。这个团体只有少数成员公开了自己的会员身份。出于对类似麦卡锡时代黑名单的恐惧，会员名单也秘而不宣。
For some right-leaning techies, the GOP brand itself is a liability. The startup CEO stressed that there are “a number of ideas that conservatives have that I totally disagree with,” such as opposition to same-sex marriage, and he abhors the thought of being lumped in with Republicans who deny climate change or evolution.
“Republicans are regarded as assholes,” he said. “And I wouldn’t want to be associated with assholes.”
Another Republican who founded a small San Francisco-based startup told National Journal that he’s worried potential partners and investors would be turned off by his libertarian views. Recently, it seems like all of his peers in Silicon Valley have been outspoken about their opposition to the thwarted religious liberty law in Indiana, he said. He thinks business owners should be allowed to decide whom they serve, and if they discriminate against gays, people can choose not to patronize their business. He won’t discuss that view, though, or debate his left-leaning colleagues on Facebook or Twitter.
“If I were to speak out about something like that, maybe one of these companies wants to buy my company one day and the CEO is like, ‘Oh, I remember this guy saying all this stuff about this thing that I really disagree with.’ And that obviously could have negative effects,” he said. “Getting your point across isn’t worth it.”
The consequences for being outed for conservative views can be dire. In a highly public controversy last year, newly-hired Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, who is registered as an independent in California, stepped down after critics attacked his 2008 donation to support Proposition 8, the anti-same-sex marriage law in California. Eich, who declined to comment for this story, faced an internal uprising from within the Mozilla community, as well as boycotts from other tech companies, and quit after just two weeks on the job.
因为保守观点而被排挤的后果可能很可怕。去年就有一场喧嚣的争论。Mozilla公司新上任的CEO Brendan Eich是一位在加州注册的无党派人士，他因为在2008年捐款支持加州反同性婚姻法的8号提案而受到评论家的攻击，随后就辞职了。拒绝对此事作出评论的Eich承受了来自公司内部的激烈反对以及其它科技公司的抵制，仅仅在上任两周后便辞职了。
Though Eich’s was an extreme case, some Republicans in Silicon Valley fear that if they go public, they’ll face subtler, less direct repercussions. The CEO who spoke on background keeps his conservative-leaning views to himself, he said, because he doesn’t want to risk people not liking him, which could hurt his job in imperceptible ways. As a leader, he needs to be able to inspire people to join and thrive in his company. If he’s “contrarian,” he said, he can’t build the necessary camaraderie to succeed.
Matthew Del Carlo, the former president of the San Francisco Young Republicans and the COO of the California Young Republican Federation, said that transparent Republicans can have a much harder time finding work in the Bay Area. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘If I found out that this person’s a Republican, their resume’s off the list.‘”
旧金山年轻共和党人组织（San Francisco Young Republicans）的前主席，加州年轻共和党人联盟（California Young Republican Federation）的首席运营官Matthew Del Carlo说，公开身份的共和党人在湾区找工作要难得多。“有人告诉我：‘如果我发现这人是共和党人，他的简历会直接被排除。’”
Prominent Republicans do openly work in Silicon Valley, and not all of them feel stigmatized for their political views. Billionaire Paypal founder Peter Thiel is a high-profile GOP supporter who has made considerable donations to presidential contender Ted Cruz’s 2012 Senate run and former congressman Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential super PAC. And Sarah Pompei, who handled Romney’s regional press in 2012 and now serves as Hewlett-Packard’s director of corporate communications, told National Journal she’s never felt denigrated for her conservative views.
确实也有知名共和党人会在硅谷公开活动，他们中并非所有人都觉得自己因为政治观点而受到指责。Paypal创始人亿万富翁Peter Thiel是位高调的共和党支持者。他捐赠了数量可观的献金支持总统席位竞争者Ted Cruz的2012年参议员竞选，以及前众议员Ron Paul的2012年总统竞选超级政治行动委员会（super PAC）。2012年为罗姆尼处理地区报道事务的Sarah Pompei目前是惠普公司的企业传播主管，她告诉《国家杂志》，她从未感觉因持有保守派观点而受到抨击。
Both Pompei and Thiel, who declined to comment for this story, prove success in the tech industry is possible for Republicans who are open about their political leanings. But they wield more power and cachet than the average start-up employee.
“There’s fearless people out there that don’t care, but those tend to be people that are in a better position financially. They’re secure in their job,” Del Carlo said. Those with more to lose, he said, often find it easier to keep quiet.
Still, Thiel’s attention-getting fundraising for GOP candidates and libertarian causes, along with other high-profile Republicans in the tech sector, show that the climate in Silicon Valley is—albeit incrementally—becoming more politically inclusive. Lincoln Labs, the group dedicated to connecting right-of-center techies in the Bay Area, has been a big part of that effort. Earlier this year, its annual conference, Reboot, brought libertarians and conservatives from Silicon Valley to Washington to hear Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul speak on deregulation, net neutrality, and other tech-industry priorities.
尽管如此，Thiel为共和党候选人以及自由意志主义事业进行的引人注目的募捐，以及其他一些科技界的高调共和党人，都显示了硅谷的政治气候正在——尽管是渐进式地——变得更包容。致力于联合湾区右翼科技从业者的团体Lincoln Labs在推动这种政治气候变化的过程中贡献良多。今年早些时间，团体年会Reboot将硅谷的自由主义意志者和保守派聚集到华盛顿，聆听参议员Ted Cruz和Rand Paul就解除管制、网络中立以及其它一些科技产业重要事宜发表的讲话。
Throughout the year, the organization holds meetups and hackathons to build a “sense of community, so that people don’t feel like they are isolated,” Johnson said. He and Lincoln Labs’ other co-founders, Aaron Ginn and Chris Abrams, want to empower a true exchange of ideas within the tech community, without ostracizing any one view.
该组织全年举行聚会和编程马拉松，以此建立一种“社区感，让人不会觉得被孤立。”Johnson说。他和Lincoln Labs的另外两位共同创立者Aaron Ginn和Chris Abrams想在科技行业内促成真正的意见交流，而不排斥任何一种观点。
“Silicon Valley purports to be a place where the best ideas win,” Johnson said. “If we are going to encourage diversity, let’s not just stop with gender and ethnicity. How about ideological perspective?”
Conservatives and libertarians in Silicon Valley like Johnson are pioneering a new kind of Republican. With a distinctly libertarian flavor, they align with the party on the principles of liberty and limited government, but don’t necessarily lean right on—or care much about—social issues.
The entrepreneurs and techies of the Bay Area, said Tafel, are “very aligned to what could be a Republican party.” They just need to come out.